Exec Report Trips Coordinator 2016/17
This report is a summary of the 2016/2017 term for me (Zack Wentz) as the Trips Coordinator. I will discuss each event that is the responsibility of Trips Coordinator, and additional events/projects I took on that I would LOVE the future Trips Coordinators to continue. As well, I would like to discuss the role I see the Trips Coordinator in the future undertaking, concerning where our club is at currently and what we as the VOC Exec need to do to combat the issues presented with our club.
Role as Trips Coordinator
The role of the Trips Coordinator is simply: "to encourage people to lead trips." Your primary role as the Trips Coordinator is to ensure there is enough trips available for our members at the difficulty-level presented for our current membership skill level. This I performed in a number of ways: initially getting to know almost all the active members of the club by going to nearly every slideshow, social event, and (in the beginning) nearly every trip; encouraging to the friends I did know to lead more trips, and leading many, many trips myself. As the school year progressed, I got busier and busier and realistically keeping up this trend was difficult at times. I realized for me to continue to do this either the quality of work in my classes would fade (which it surely did at times) or the quality of the trips would fade. With that then, I needed to take on a different approach that re-distributed the responsibility of trips being ran to other keeners in our club.
Throughout my two years as Trips Coordinator however, I saw that its not only our role to encourage trips to happen, but to ensure the trips that are organized are organized in a responsible and risk-savy way. In a way you could say this was reactionary, because there were a few accidents/close calls that resulted in us (as an Exec) thinking about changing how our trips are led. Therefore, I attempted to foster a culture of mountain safety in our club. I did this through offering many clinics on mountain safety travel, such as companion/crevasse rescue courses at Wreck Beach, avalanche awareness classes, leadership clinics, rope rescue/rock climbing systems clinics, etc. I took on this challenging position because practicing teaching these skills were useful to me as I was training to become a mountain guide at the time; but I also felt responsible when a trip went out where participants were either not prepared or ill-informed about the trip they were about to participate on.
But again, the issue about not having the time to lead such things took over. I would notice at times anytime I wasn't free to lead a trip, the Trip Agenda would be scant at best, and hence because I was Trips Coordinator and I enjoyed leading trips, I would bite the bullet and lead a trip anyway. Throughout my whole first term as Trips Coordinator (2015/2016), I approached making sure enough trips were available in this way.
Then after the summer of 2017, I had just finished a season of working as a mountain guide in California; so I had some insight regarding what our company did to encourage leadership development through providing opportunities for shadowing specific courses, mentorship, and having some structure for development of future leaders in the organization. I took from this many things, but most importantly: that the role of Trips Coordinator is not necessarily to lead a bunch of trips. It is your role to create a framework such that it makes it easier for others to lead trips. Hence, I fostered a new approach; I focused on re-designing and simplifying our curriculum for our rock climbing and glacier-travel instructional courses, such that more people could lead trips of those instructional nature, providing opportunities for assistant instructors on major trips such as Glacier School, Rock Party, etc and running "Trip Leader Mentorship Clinics" to allow others to take on the leadership role with me (as an experienced leader) overseeing their leadership/trip organization. I found these methods extremely effective; and for the future Trips Coordinator, I HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest taking on more of these roles.
To conclude the role component of my report, I should say the final project I plan on taking on is defining a Trip Rating system to quantify the difficulty of each trip led, such that terms like "Beginner-Friendly" are not used to define the difficulty of trips. The system I will leave with the club is rough and unedited; I hope the club will observe how effective this system is and make any improvements to the suggested system as you see fit. In addition, I HIGHLY reccomend keeping the mentorship process going, so if you have time, I'd highly reccomend continuing to offer trip leadership clinics with mentorship as a focal point of those clinics. Also, remember that not all trips need to be huge, large-scaled trips. Sometimes the best trips are the ones with a max group size of 10-15 people.
Son of Rock
This is the spring annual rock climbing instructional camp held the first weekend of May each year. I took part in organizing it during my first year as Trips Coordinator, but last year was not around during that weekend so I left it up to the Vice President at the time (Byron Wilson) to organize it. Two years ago when I did however, I took an approach that essentially made it similar to a much more chill spring Rock Party. We camped up the Squamish Valley on a large beach site that accommodated the 50+ people very well, as well as a large bonfire for building stoke/good times. This has somewhat become a tradition, so if you'd like those coordinates I'd be happy to share them :) As far as the organization of the whole thing; that year I approached it with me as the organizer outside of an instructor role (i.e. I did not instruct as the organizer), but I felt that as unnecessary as most groups were fairly self-sufficient and didn't need organizational guidance after the initial parking lot faff. I also provided an extensive instructor meeting before the pre-trip meeting, similar to Glacier School, such that instructors could have the opportunity to weigh in on curriculum, and decide what to teach vs. not teach. This was useful, but be mindful to the instructors that they ave equal say in the matter as you: you as the organizer is simply a facilitator of the discussion. I found this discussion useful in that we found elements of the curriculum we'd agree we wouldn't teach, and others to especially focus on.
Ah Glacier School; the highlight or lowlight of the Trips Coordinator's career! Personally I LOVED both of these trips, but without the upfront work they can turn into absolute gong-shows that become the worst trip you have ever organized. Yes it is LOTS of organization; lots of factors that need to come together, but ultimately if/when it does, it's the most invigorating feeling in the world. I really tried hard on these trips to make them flow like a well-oiled machine. There's many specific things regarding the instructor pre-trip meeting agenda, the curriculum updates, etc that I included to make this year's trip as well done as it possibly could be. I think a lot of people gave me pretty positive feedback regarding this trip this year, and for next year I'd HIGHLY reccomend a series of mentorship opportunities available to keep running this trip at that level for future years to come.
This year, Info Night was held near the end of September. We had a lot of new members sign up for the email list for it, but surprisingly there wasn't much of a turnout for it like we hoped. Regardless of this fact, we still brought the stoke! I had my friend Nathan make a sweet little intro movie to add onto our slideshow, and it seems that the people that were there were stoked to get more involved. Membership in general this year wasn't too difficult to recruit; if anything I'd say it was more difficult attempting to meet the demands of the current club's membership rather than trying to recruit new members. Either way, any way that you can show some good photos and get people stoked on what our club does (which is awesome BTWs), you'll be successful in this event.
This year (2017) I did not organize Winter Longhike. Byron Wilson was more stoked about doing it since Rock Party was not able to be held due to weather concerns. I let him run this trip this year, and from what I heard it sounded like a good time similar to the party intensity of Rock Party.
In the previous year however, I did take on the task of running it. It went okay for the most part, but the unfortunate thing was that most of our instructors had to bail because we had to reschedule it due to weather concerns the previous weekend. With that in mind, it ended up being 2 instructors for 40 people; hence only really a leader and a sweep. Of course, this group size/ratios is outrageously too large; and in hindsight we should have canceled it altogether with those ratios in mind. However, we went ahead; I did what I could to keep the group together/accounted for/well being in check. I made sure to communicate to the back of the group (the sweep) with radios to check in every so often, because although it's only Mount Seymour, remember that most people on Winter Longhike have never winter camped/hiked/been out of the city before. You definitely have to put that into perspective. Anyway, it mostly worked out; minus some shuffling of people amongst another VOC trip that was up there at the same time. Again in hindsight; more instructors, or cancel the trip. Ultimately though everyone learned quite a bit from this trip; we had a thorough debrief which I could attach my notes to, and backcountry iron chef, it's a good thing, especially as the trip organizer :)
Conclusion/Future Goals for Trips Coordinator
To summarize, I would say I loved taking on the role of Trip Coordinator. While the role is sometimes confusing as to what you NEED to do, ultimately it is your decision as the current Trips Coordinator to make that call. It's such a great role if you like getting out and about on many trips; like taking on an active leadership role, and learning about how to manage groups in the backcountry. With regards to our club in general into the future; do keep in mind the scope of the intensity of our trips. Much of our trip membership is gleaning towards a much more stoked, yet beginner skillset; which isn't necessarily bad, just different. Do keep in mind that skilled people do still exist in the club, and they'd like trips to exist for them as well. I found having something along the lines of 2-3 trips every weekend would be best, 1 or 2 being focused on being beginner-friendly/beginner-oriented, and the other being much more technical striked the best balance between these two factors. Enjoy this role whoever takes it on; it'll be some of the best and worst experiences of your life!